Category: Holidays

Decorating for Fall

For my fall decorations this year, I really wanted to bring out the vibrant and organic colors of the season to create an ambience of golden light indoors. The red and orange

accents really brought warmth to my mostly ivory-colored living room. I love the

punchy color of these daisies and wish they would last all season! There are few things in life I enjoy more than a warm fire… Dried foliage provides an almost stained glass

effect with their translucent leaves and bright colors.

Thanksgiving Traditions

A lot of you may know that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I love that it brings family and friends together and it truly is a time to reflect on our lives and give thanks for what we all have. One of the traditions that I do each year with my family and children is share our thanks. We go around the table and everyone shares what they are thankful for in their lives. It is so nice to reflect on what is important in life. For me, it is health and happiness and being with the ones I love most. I wish the same for you this Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Thanksgiving 2013

I can’t believe Thanksgiving has come and gone already…I feel so lucky to have been able to share the day with family and close friends (my niece and her boyfriend, Mike, even flew out from Ohio to join us this year). The food was amazing and the company even better. This year, I changed my tablescape up a bit—normally, I like to decorate the table in harvest colors, but I decided to dress my table with fresh holiday greens and make it a little more Christmas-themed this year, and I was so happy with how it turned out. The accents from the vibrant greens ands reds finished off the table setting perfectly against the cream color of the table cloth. Here are a few pictures from this year’s Thanksgiving to share with all of you—I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with your loved ones and family!

Cranberry Almond Muffins

I love almonds and cranberries, so these muffins are a little bit of heaven to me. They’re such a yummy sweet treat and they are the perfect accompaniment to my orange marmalade. I decided I wanted to make these to include in my Mother’s Day gift basket. They’re very easy to make and clean up is a cinch! Enjoy! Ingredients 1½
cups flour ½ cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt 2 eggs ¼ cup melted butter ½ cup sour cream 1 teaspoon almond extract 1 cup sliced almonds 1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, almonds and salt in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients, eggs, butter, sour cream and almond extract, separately. Combine the wet and dry mixtures, mixing together thoroughly. Line your muffin pan with muffin liners for an easy clean up. Spoon 1 small scoop of the muffin mix into each tin. Next, layer in a tablespoon of cranberry sauce and then top with another scoop of the batter. Sprinkle the tops with remaining almonds. Bake for 30 minted or until lightly brown. Let them cool and serve with this orange marmalade recipe! Enjoy!

4th of July Popsicles

Molly and I had so much fun making these 4th of July popsicles! They are a healthy treat and we were excited to try them, but they didn’t turn out exactly as we planned. Not all of my DIYs turn out perfectly, but at least we had a good laugh. Have a look, and don’t be afraid to try these at home. I blame the popsicle molds…


HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Greek Yogurt (Plain or Vanilla)
  • Sugar or sweetener (optional)
  • Blue Food Coloring (optional)
  • Blender
  • Popsicle Molds

What to do:

Blend strawberries together. Add water until consistency is thin enough to easily pour. Fill one-third of the popsicle mold with strawberry mixture. Freeze until hardened.

Whisk greek yogurt and water together until consistency is thin enough to easily pour. Pour over the strawberry mixture, so it fills two-thirds of the mold. Freeze until hardened.

Blend blueberries together. Add water until consistency is thin enough to easily pour. Fill the rest of the popsicle mold with the blueberry mixture. Freeze until hardened.

Once completely frozen, you’re ready to serve!

Optional Steps

– Blueberry mixture may appear slightly purple. Add a few drops of blue food coloring to make the blue color richer.
– You may add sugar or another type of sweetener to any of the three layers for a sweeter treat.

Candy Corn Popcorn Balls

If you are like me and you are stuck with loads of leftover Halloween candy, this is a fun and easy treat to make to use up all that left over candy. I used candy corn, but you could really use whatever you have on hand. These are really fun to make with your kiddos and a great way to get the candy out of the house. I suggest wrapping each of the balls in saran wrap to keep them staying fresh. Have fun and enjoy.


HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 bag of microwave popcorn popped
  • 1-11 oz. bag of Kraft caramels
  • 2 Tbsp. of water
  • 1/2 cup of candy corn

Pop popcorn & remove any kernels that didn’t pop.

Add popped popcorn & candy corn to a large bowl.

Unwrap caramel squares & add water.

Melt caramels over low heat stirring continuously. Once caramel is melted, pour over popcorn.

Stir caramel, popcorn & candy corn together until mixed well.

Dampen hands with water & start forming mix into firm balls.

Once popcorn ball is formed place on wax paper and let harden.

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

Molly and I had picked so many apples when we went apple picking last weekend that we wanted to make something different with the apples we had left. We decided to make an apple pie but with a spin. Instead of making a pie crust, we decided to use cinnamon rolls as the pie crust. I can honestly say this is the ONLY way we will make apple pie from now on. How have I never thought of trying this until now??? If you are looking for an easy but impressive dessert for the holidays, this is a no brainer.


HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 5 apples peeled
  • 2 cans cinnamon rolls
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a pie dish with nonstick oil.

Peel and cut the apples and place in a bowl.

Top apples with cinnamon, sugar and cornstarch to and stir.

Roll each cinnamon roll out and arrange in the bottom of the pie dish.

Add the apple mixture and use the remaining cinnamon rolls to create a top crust.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes uncovered.

Allow the pie to cool and drizzle with icing.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Sweet Pecan Streusel

This may take a little extra time to make, but it is SO worth it. Growing up I was never a huge fan of sweet potato casserole. Then a few years ago a friend came over for Thanksgiving and brought this sweet potato casserole and I have been a fan ever since. It truly tastes like a sweet pecan pie without the crust. If you are a fan of the sweet potato casserole…or even if you aren’t…trust me…give this a try. I promise you will become a fan.


HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 – 3 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a casserole dish and set aside.

Peel and cube the sweet potatoes and place them in a large pot or water, boil until tender.

Drain the potatoes and return to the pot.

Add butter, half and half, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt to the potatoes and mash until smooth.

Transfer the mashed potatoes to the prepared casserole dish. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and pecans.

Mash until thoroughly combined.

Once the topping mixture is combined, top the potatoes with half the marshmallows, then sprinkle half the streusel over the marshmallows.

Top the other half of the marshmallows and sprinkle the remaining streusel over the top.

Place back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the topping is bubbly and brown. Serve.

Thanksgiving for One

I know there are a lot of you out there who would rather go out to a restaurant on Thanksgiving instead of cook at home. There are generally two reasons I hear for why they would rather dine out vs cook: Reason (1) People say that they get nervous or are intimidated at the thought of cooking a turkey, (2) They don’t have a large family or are single. Well, I have something that may help out with both those reasons. Instead of cooking an entire turkey, just make the turkey breast — it’s the perfect size for someone who is single or may have a smaller family. I think there is always so much pressure to make Thanksgiving perfect, but if you remove that pressure, you may find that you will enjoy the holiday that much more and it becomes fun. So whether you go all out and make a huge feast, order food in, or make a smaller version of a Thanksgiving dinner, the most important thing is to enjoy the meal, the time with family and give thanks. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 lb. boneless turkey breast
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. fresh sage
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary
  • 12 slices bacon
  • Stuffing

Preheat oven to 375.
Start by butterflying the turkey breast.
Season by rubbing the turkey down with the butter.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and all the herbs.
Next, spoon stuffing all over one side of the turkey breast.

Fold the other side of the breast over, forming a log.
Wrap the entire turkey in bacon and place on a foil lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. You may want to place the turkey under the broiler for the last 2 minutes or so, if the bacon needs some crisping up. Remove from the oven and cover with a foil tent and let it rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Green Bean Casserole

I have been making the traditional canned green bean casserole for as long as I can remember. This year I wanted to try making it from scratch, so did a little test run for the BIG day. I am pleased to say that it turned out very well. However, it definitely took much more time to prepare than the traditional cream of mushroom soup one. So if you have time, I would suggest giving this a try…if time is something that you need more of, stick with the canned version…it’s a classic for a reason.


HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Panko
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic puree
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 and ½ cup half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Set aside.

Thinly slice the onion.

Pour flour in one small bowl, Panko, salt and pepper into a medium bowl, and whisk the egg and milk together in another small bowl.

Dip a few slices of onion into the flour. Then into the egg mixture. And finally, into the Panko and coat well.

Place onto baking sheet.

Repeat with the rest of the onions.

Bake onions until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set them aside.

Bring a stock pot full of water and a pinch of salt to a boil.

Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain and immediately place into a large bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain again and set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the onions. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour on top and stir until a paste is formed.

Add the half and half and simmer for 3 minutes, whisking constantly.

Next add the chicken broth. Stirring occasionally, cook until the mixture is thick– about 10 minutes or maybe more if you prefer a thicker sauce.

Remove from the heat and add 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans, combining the sauce and beans.

Top with remaining onions and bake until bubbly, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and enjoy!